Braves hope to stave off elimination vs. Dodgers
After the Milwaukee Brewers swept the Colorado Rockies to advance to the NL Championship Series earlier Sunday, the Dodgers had a chance to do the same at SunTrust Park.
The Braves, though, bounced back from two shutouts in Los Angeles to edge the Dodgers 6-5 and force a Game 4 in Atlanta on Monday. If needed, Game 5 would be Wednesday at Los Angeles.
Freddie Freeman hit a tie-breaking homer in the sixth inning after the Braves had let a five-run lead slip away and closer Arodys Vizcaino pulled off an escape act in the ninth inning with three strikeouts to spoil the Dodgers’ sweep hopes.
Only 10 of the previous 80 teams that lost the first two games of a division series have come back to win. The Braves are trying to beat the long odds as the 11th.
“I like our chances,” Freeman said. “Nobody picked us to be here, so why not prove people wrong again. We can do it.”
Right-hander Mike Foltynewicz, who lost the series opener in Los Angeles on Thursday, will get the Game 4 start for the Braves, while the Dodgers will call on left-hander Rich Hill.
Hill, who hasn’t worked since pitching seven scoreless innings at San Francisco last Sunday, won his last five regular-season starts to finish 11-5 and is 5-0 with 1.74 ERA in nine games against the Braves.
“Fifty pitches. He’s good. That’s just a workout,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Quite honestly, I’d rather start him than have him coming in behind somebody. He’s raring to go and itching to get the ball. It’s still elimination, so we’re going to try and go with the best we got.”
The Dodgers overcame a five-run Braves second inning highlighted by rookie Ronald Acuna Jr.’s grand slam but couldn’t cash in on their chances after Freeman put the Braves back ahead.
The Dodgers have seven homers in the NLDS, but just 10 other hits. Los Angeles, which received nine walks, left nine runners on base, including four in the final two innings.
“The seventh, eighth and ninth, we had our chances,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “We couldn’t get that one extra hit.”
Acuna, at age 20, is the youngest major leaguer to hit a bases-loaded homer in the postseason. Mickey Mantle did it at 21 for the New York Yankees in the 1953 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Acuna, who hit 26 homers in the regular season, had a double and single in Game 2 and followed that up impressively on Sunday. He is batting .273 (3-for-11) while Atlanta is hitting .144 in the series.
“He continues to amaze,” Freeman said. ‘He’s been doing it all year and he continued it in the playoffs. He’s pretty incredible, and everybody is starting to get to see it.”